In 2022, Churchill Downs will host the famous Arlington Million Under The Twin Spires

In 2022, Churchill Downs will host the famous Arlington Million Under The Twin Spires

The “Arlington Million” has been the main event at Arlington International Race Track west of Chicago for nearly 40 years. In 1981, the American turf horse John Henry won the world’s wealthiest horse race by the narrowest of margins over The Bart. Never before had a purse been so tall. In 2022, after a COVID cancellation a few years earlier and the formal “closure” of the lovely track by owner Churchill Downs Inc. (it was sold to the Chicago Bears), it has been a trying period for everyone involved. Remembering happy times in the past can be comforting.

Considering the problems with Churchill’s new Matt Winn Turf Course, it’s great to have “The Million” back in working order. Hugh Robertson’s Two Emmys won the race from post to post after track announcer John Dooley’s final call. John Henry, Manila, Chester House, The Tin Man, Gio Ponti, Little Mike, several Chad Brown runners, and of course, the Chicago icon… The Pizza Man — these names will live in infamy regardless of the venue change. Even if Arlington Park closes, the legendary race (now at 1 1/8th instead of 114) must continue on. Let’s learn more about this area right now…

Arlington Mission – #1 Set Piece (Jky: F. Geroux/Trn: B. Cox):

The legendary Juddmonte homebred sails back from Saratoga, where it placed last in the G3 Forbidden Apple S. While the “Old Course” at Churchill was a favorite of the son of the great Dansili (GB), the “New Course” is more his speed. Nonetheless, we can safely assume that his trainer Brad Cox will have him primed and ready to go on Saturday.

Regular jockey Florent Geroux (now in Del Mar for their Meet) faces the difficult task of controlling his mount’s speed. He’s not been in a race at this distance in over a year, and he often runs towards the far back of the pack. A low price is typically posted on the board, and you can count on that happening again. A player…

Arlington Mission – #2 Sacred Life (Jky: M. Franco/Trn: C. Brown):

Here we have one of Chad Brown’s more seasoned turfers, and judging by his bankroll of nearly $823,000, he knows how to win. The competitors owned by Michael Dubb and Madaket over the years have always been top-notch, and this one is no exception. A Grade 1 victory like this one would catapult him to the next level. His opponent in the ’22 campaign, Siyouni (FR), was a riddle. He ran into some serious congestion during the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), where he ultimately finished in sixth place. Yet, keep in mind, he was only 2¼-lengths behind Colonel Liam.

Manny Franco, who tends to run well only occasionally, should aim towards the course’s center. A horse with a ferocious turn of foot is unparalleled. supporting a style like this is a risky business. yet Chad Brown is well-known for sneaking into competitions and sneaking off with the win. There are “Millions” everywhere with his name on them.

Arlington Mission – #3 Field Pass (Jky: R. Gutierrez/Trn: M. Maker):

One of two runners trained by Mike Maker to appear in the area around his home in Kentucky… This son of Lemon Drop Kid, owned by Three Diamonds, has competed in races worldwide. You can bet that he has walked the grass of your favorite course. After facing off against stablemate Megacity #5 in the $300,000 Texas Turf Classic S., he returns to Churchill Downs in peak form. His shipping partner was disqualified, and he won that hot afternoon.

It was a strange circumstance, to put it bluntly. It wasn’t a tremendously challenging field, but we know he can win on any Saturday. He has often faced off against Brown’s Sacred Life #2, and in November at Del Mar he won the Grade 2 Seabiscuit H. against him. He’s dangerous if he’s throwing his best fastball. Another contender who prefers to stay back and make a late-running surge… could prove challenging for a jockey like Reylu Gutierrez, who often likes to get his horse moving quickly on the turf.

Arlington Mission – #4 Smooth Like Strait (Jky: J. Velazquez/Trn: M. McCarthy):

This 5-year-old steed is the one to back if you’re a fan of the sire Midnight Lute and prefer your turfers to take the lead early and try to set the tempo. He has been one of Mike McCarthy’s most reliable horses, and his record speaks for itself (21/7-8-3). His trainer has moved him away from Southern California, although he has had the most success in that region. John Velazquez, a Hall of Fame jockey, has replaced Umberto Rispoli and most recently Flavien Prat in this role.

In his most recent race, the Shoemaker M. (G1), he finished second behind Count Again after losing the lead early. Sending him to Churchill is a novel strategy, as it will force him to cover ground he often avoids. The Cannon homebred will have to put out his best effort, and realistically, if the fractions are even mildly stiff, he will have a tough time holding off the swarming mob. Perhaps asking too much, even with a Hall of Fame rider on board of the caliber of Johnny V.

Arlington Mission – #5 Megacity (Jky: G. Corrales/Trn: M. Maker):

This City Zip gelding, formerly of the Tomlinson Barn, will compete in the $300,000 Texas Turf Classic at Lone Star Park against his former stablemate Field Pass #3. Joe Rocco’s finest stakes score was lost when his mount fouled his sporting adversary in deep stretch. Michael Dubb’s claim with Mike Maker is paying off, and it sure would be something if this 7-year-old could take home a prize like this.

The Kentucky stable is gaining an aggressive grass jockey who can put his mount in a forward position by switching riders to Gerardo Corrales. Price plays are many in “The Million,” This one stands out as a top pick if you’re seeking one. He’ll be up against McCarthy’s ace “early,” so to speak. This is a promising start and should keep us interested.

Arlington Mission – #6 Santin (Jky: T. Gaffalione/Trn: B. Walsh):

Brendan Walsh’s Godolphin homebred by Distorted Humor was the decisive winner of the Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs, despite the consensus opinion of racing experts that the field was weak. That afternoon, I put everything on the horse, and he paid off big time—and no, I didn’t bet on Rich Strike. If you’re looking for an expert in turf routes, look no further. Respectable lineage… extremely reliable… reliable conditioning in the ring once again is Tyler Gaffalione…

With only seven outings under his belt, he has less experience than others pulled into this competition. He never misses a game unless it’s the Manhattan S. (G1). Given how wacky and unpredictable it all turned out to be, I can overlook that blunder. His rating is excellent, and with a reasonable pace to run against, he can swoop in and seize the lead just before the line. He approves of the latest Matt Winn…

Arlington Mission – #7 Admission Office (Jky: B. Hernandez/Trn: B. Lynch):

The 7-year-old son of Point of Entry is returning to Churchill with his trainer, Brian Lynch, where he has had some success in the past. This ultra-deep turf router has a history with Dynaformer, so we know he appreciates the beauty of the grass. The first time I saw him race at Keeneland, he did not disappoint me. Lynch has since dared him to take on the toughest races in the grass category.

His competition has come from Zulu Alpha, Magic Wand, Aquaphobia, Casa Creed, Phantom Currency (a stablemate), and Channel Maker and Soldier Rising (recent opponents). He may lack the Grade 1 class required to compete with elite runners, but you can be sure he will be ready to run from off the pace. On Saturday, jockey Brian Hernandez will get the call as Lynch tries something fresh involving neither John Velazquez nor Julien Leparoux. Perhaps this is Lynch’s horse’s last chance at a Grade 1 win… hmm …

Arlington Mission – #8 Cavalry Charge (Jky: D. Cohen/Trn: D. Stewart):

Terry Finely, the outstanding leader of West Point Thoroughbreds, has had a very productive week at the Saratoga Sale. They gambled on one newcomer, but hope to win a Grade 1 with this one. This gelding by Honor Code is as erratic as his trainer, Dallas Stewart. There have been instances when he’s shone, like at the Fair Grounds (G3). at other times he appears confused and disoriented… just like the Kentucky Derby (G1) and the Turf Classic (G1) (G3).

The tables can now be turned, and he can announce a decisive triumph. David Cohen, who is based mostly at Oaklawn, will be riding for the third time in a row, even though he rarely has the chance to ride on the grass. Both Santin #7 and Cellist #9 have been confronted by his mount before he enters the gate. It may be good enough to hit the board at this point. Truthfulness is a virtue…

Arlington Mission – #9 Cellist (Jky: C. Lanerie/Trn: R. Arnold):

Rusty Arnold, a native of Calumet, plans to aim for the stars with this turfer. The son of Big Blue Kitten proved his superiority in last year’s NYRA “Turf Triple,” but he has not faced rivals of this caliber since. Although the fields were large in both the Tampa Bay (G3) and the Louisville (G3), the latter was won by Julien Leparoux by a nose.

Last time out at Colonial Downs in the “Non-G,” something went wrong, but I can’t put my finger on it. Arnold gets him back to a perfect 2-2 record, so that’s progress. It’s going to be a tough day on the track for his new rider, Corey Lanerie. He has a promising mount in this one, but he may need more races before he can claim the winner’s circle and a Grade 1 triumph. More time is required for horse racing betting.



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